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The Big Bang: What It Is, Where It Came From and Why It Works Paperback – March 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0471394525 ISBN-10: 0471394521 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471394521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471394525
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,759,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“…this is the first book in a proposed series that examines the big questions in science. If the other authors tackle their topics with such objectivity, clarity and verve, the series should be a resounding success…” (Astronomy and Space, March 2005)

"the layout of the book is first class.... A first rate book , having a permanent place in my library and I look forward to reading future work by the author..." (BBC Three Counties Radio - quote from transcript, 27 May 2002)

"…This is a book very much intended for the non-specialist and it can be recommended as a lightweight and light-hearted introduction to the field…" (The Observatory Magazine, December 2002)

"...An insight into the best theory so far to explain the universe we see today..." (Astronomy Now, January 2003)

From the Back Cover

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About the Big Bang!

"If you've ever wondered why scientists believe such a far-fetched story as the big bang, this is the book for you. Karen Fox's easygoing account explains why big bang theory is more than mere mythology-and why the centuries-old struggles of astronomers and physicists have led to a compelling portrait of the universe's fiery birth."-Charles Seife, author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

"A painless introduction for anyone interested in the mysteries surrounding the birth of the universe. It's a lively and gracefully written story, conveying the essence of modern cosmology, sprinkled with the human wrinkles that keep the enterprise intriguing."-Tom Siegfried, author of The Bit and the Pendulum: From Quantum Computing to M Theory-The New Physics of Information

"A funny, sobering history of the first lunatics who thought they understood the universe . . . and the most recent ones, who may actually have it right."-David Kestenbaum, NPR Science Correspondent

The Big Bang Theory takes a compelling and lively look at one of the most fascinating ideas in modern science. The first in a series of fun, concise books on the most significant scientific theories, The Big Bang Theory offers an accessible and complete road map to the most intriguing model yet for the birth of the cosmos.

More About the Author

Karen C. Fox is a veteran science writer who has covered physics and astrophysics since 1991. Her writing has run the gamut from describing stellar fusion for children's books to magazine articles on particle accelerators to developing NIST's website on establishing national energy and environmental impact standards to producing a teacher's guide on low-temperature physics. She believes anyone can understand complex physics when explained properly, and prides herself on producing successful, factual, and enjoyable science translations for lay audiences.

Customer Reviews

An irresistible read.
Ann
She writes in a very clear manner that even explains string theory in a simple manner.
Sonya
On top of this, many "facts" are plain wrong.
James R. Henderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 28 people found the following review helpful By R. Feasey on July 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
The book appears to be aimed at novice readers, and I have commented on that basis. At 200 or so small format pages, the paperback attempts to be both entertaining and lively in style. But in my opinion this book misses the mark, and is full of errors, ambiguities and sloppy language. It is plain bad!

For instance, when talking about the naked eye view of the sky, she indicates that the planets in their various motions "would get even larger, as if they were coming closer". I presume the author means "brighter" rather than "larger" since to the naked eye, none of the planets subtends a disc. This is typical of the sloppy language used throughout - to those who know, the sloppiness is recognisable as such, but to the true novice, how potentially misleading!

The book frequently wanders into the relationship between philosophy, religion and science, not only in regard to the early cosmologies, but also the acceptance (and lack of acceptance) of the Big Bang in the 1950's and 60's as it and the science of cosmology became more well established.

The second part of the book addresses the Big Bang Theory and its "problems" subsequent to the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). This introduces inflationary Big Bang models, and the curvature of space as a function of the mass content of the Universe and so on. In attempting to describe how the expansion rate of the Universe can be deduced from the observed properties of the distant galaxies, the author becomes thoroughly confused and confusing (even more so than is usual for this tome).
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Who among us has not wished to know more about the creation of our universe and the fantastic nature of how we all got here? Who also has not felt his eyes quickly glaze over and wanted to scream "no mas" when we actually enlisted the help of a scientific type to try to explain such a complicated topic? Well, Karen Fox has devised the magic bullet to slay such dilemmas with this book! Ms. Fox explains science's most well-known theory with a clarity and deftness that causes the complexities of the matter to be transparent to us curious laymen. With a thorough yet thoroughly readable style that is ceaselessly engaging, Ms. Fox rewards our curiousity by serving up a delectably fun and informative serving of information that goes down easy and causes no heartburn. Whether or not you were able to get past Intro Physics, if you want to know all you should want to know about astronomy's biggest mystery and enjoy doing it, this is the book for you.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James R. Henderson on May 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Wow, this is a brief presentation! Einstein's theories of relativity (both special and general) get four pages -- and this includes a bio. The period from Plato to Kepler (about 2000 years) gets all of fourteen pages. I can only assume we're supposed to know all this stuff already, because one couldn't become more than introduced to names given the author's treatment of the topics. On top of this, many "facts" are plain wrong. E.g., the author claims that Hans Bethe knew nothing of his name's addition to the famous Alpha-Beta-Gamma (Alpher-Bethe-Gamow) paper (p. 61). Not true.

There are many much better presentations of this material; for one, see Singh's _Big Bang_. It's better researched and a lot more thorough.
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By Sonya on December 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
Karen C. Fox writes in a style that is both accessible and entertaining. If you are tired of pouring through astrophysics materials from writers that are hung up on themselves - the big orange book called Introduction to Astrophysics comes to mind - pick up Fox's book now.

She writes in a very clear manner that even explains string theory in a simple manner. Other physics and astrophysics writers need to take note of Fox's style and clarity.

She will be one of the next Great Ones.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nova137 on January 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was written in 2002 and is, on the whole, very up to date. It comes in at a very reasonable 206 pages (including the Index). It has a silly cover, but don't let it fool you into thinking it lacks depth. It actually is a great little book that is, on the whole, well researched and well written. It covers all of the salient points within the historical evolution of the accepted modern cosmological model of Universal origins. The biggest questions about the big bang are what does it say and how does it say it? This book answers those two questions briefly, but adroitly. It spends just enough time on each concept and delves deeply enough to bring clarity to this complex subject. It is unafraid to look at the triumphs (high energy particle physics, an expanding universe, big-bang nucleosynthesis, the Cosmic Background Radiation) and the pitfalls (homogeneity, flatness, horizon and magnetic monopole problems) within the model.

The book has 7 Chapters and is broken up into two main sections. Section 1 is titled,"How we came to believe the big bang theory." I actually am not offended by her use of this phrase. Rather than be afraid to consider the big bang theory a belief, if it is given the respect it is due (which Karen does quite well), then we can readily admit that when it comes to much of cosmology, we have to have a starting point, an assumption, an ideology, in short, a belief. Section 2 is titled, "How good a theory is it?" Karen C. Fox deserves credit for not holding back, giving us its blemishes and its warts (she calls them "glitches" a term I think fits: personally I think the biggest wart of the big bang theory is its failure to *predict* inflation.
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